Tuesday, December 25, 2007


LITTLE ROCK CRISIS The so-called Little Rock Crisis of 1957 was one of the earliest and certainly most publicized attempts to enforce court-ordered school integration in the South. Early in 1957, the Little Rock, Arkansas school board had agreed to comply with a court-order demanding that the city's Central High School admit black students. Nine carefully selected black children were chosen to begin classes at Central on September 4. In the meantime, however, Governor Orval Faubus assumed the stance of a diehard segregationist by intervening and defying the court-order. Following a dramatic television appearance, Faubus called out the National Guard to prevent the nine black youngsters from entering the previously all-white school. A federal court then ordered that the students be admitted and, concurrently, ordered that the National Guard be withdrawn.

On September 23, the black children returned to Central only to be met with the curses and stones of an angry white mob. This mob violence prompted President Dwight D. Eisenhower to federalize the Arkansas National Guard and to send in para­troopers to restore order and escort the black students to and from school for the remainder of the year. Faubus reacted by closing the Little Rock schools for the academic year, 1958-59. A federal court subsequently ruled that Faubus' action was unconstitutional, and thereby paved the way for the reopening of schools on a desegregated basis in the autumn of 1959.

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